8 technical logo design mistakes and how to avoid them

Having clarified the graphical mistakes in logo design, in this article we come to the technical logo design mistakes and how to avoid them. This post is part of the Logo Design Guide post series.

1. Rasterized logos is the most common technical logo design mistakes

Why is this important? Logos are printed on a wide variety of media. Maybe our logo still looks good in a rasterized format on a letterhead, but what about on a large poster, a company sign, or on a store window? Rasterized graphics quickly look blurry and unprofessional at a low resolution.

How you can avoid this? If we design or edit the logo ourselves, we should use a program specifically for vector graphics. There are also free programs. A list of them can be found in the “Resources” chapter. If the graphic is supplied by a designer, we should pay attention to the supplied file format. Formats like SVG, EPS or PDF can save vectors – JPEG, BMP or TIFF cannot. File formats for vector graphics usually have a very small file size as well. However, to be absolutely sure, we need to open the file and enlarge it very much. If everything is displayed clearly, the logo is available as a vector file and is thus perfectly prepared for large-format advertising.

Note: Logos need to be razor-sharp, even at high magnification. Rasterized logos limit this

2. Incorrect color model

Why is this important? An incorrect color model usually leads to a distorted representation of the colors on the respective medium. Colors that are displayed correctly on the screen can then deviate considerably when printed.

How can this error be avoided? Whole books have already been written on the subject of color management. It would go beyond the scope of this book. Therefore, only the basics. Our logo should be available once as RGB version and once as CYMK version. The RGB version of the logo is intended for display on screens. This includes, for example, screen presentations, websites, social media profile pictures or apps. The CYMK version is intended for all printed media, i.e. business cards, letterheads, flyers, etc.

Note: Logos should always be in a color model for computer screens and in a color model for printing

3. Missing monochrome representation

Why is this important? Even though black and white fax machines are now long outdated, there are still good reasons to design a logo so that it can also work well in black and white. For example, for flyers or internal documents that are only printed in black for economic reasons. Or for display on e-book readers with b/w display, engravings etc. There are still many applications for monochrome logos. For this reason, every professional logo can also be displayed very well in black and white.

How can we avoid this mistake? We should avoid smooth color gradients, semi-transparent elements, thin fonts and lines. Overlapping elements in the logo can also become a problem if they are only separated by a different color. Contours can be helpful for better demarcation.

Note: Even in black and white, all the details of a logo must be clearly visible

4. Disproportionate distortions

Why is this important? Stretched or squashed letters impede the flow of reading. Due to our visual habits, disproportionate fonts and images appear alienating. This reduces the acceptance of the logo by the target group.

How can this mistake be avoided? Even if a logo has correct proportions, undesirable distortions can occur when it is displayed in advertising materials. This often happens when we insert it into a program (e.g. presentation programs) and want to reduce or enlarge it. To ensure that the logo is enlarged equally in width and length, we should always use the corners of the selection frame. If necessary, in some programs we also have to press the Shift key. This way we make sure that our logo is displayed with the correct proportions.

Note: Type and image elements should never appear stretched or squashed in a logo

5. Bumpy backgrounds

Why is this important? Striking backgrounds such as patterns or gradients compete with our logo for the viewer. Patterns in the background make it difficult to read the letters. Gradients of color in the background compete with the logo and cause the color scheme of the logo to be out of focus for the viewer.

How can this mistake be avoided? Logos should be placed on a neutral colored background. This can be white, a subtle shade of gray, or black. For example, if we place the logo in an ad on a photograph, it is advisable to draw in a white/black box where the logo is placed. Alternatively, the logo could be placed on a part of the image where the photograph has a strong blur and the colors are desaturated and low-contact.

Note: Logos should always be displayed on neutral monochrome backgrounds

6. Logo only works on light backgrounds

Why is this important? In practice, there are some applications where logos are placed on dark or black backgrounds. For example, in headers of websites or when the logo is displayed in the partner or sponsor area on a website that works with dark colors. If we only have a version for white/light backgrounds, the logo will not integrate well.

How can this error be avoided? Most logos are created for a white background. We should make sure that we also have a version of the logo for display on a black or dark background. Often, it is enough to color the font color and outline of the alternate logo white. In the case of colored logos, the colors should be chosen so that they are easily recognizable on light backgrounds and on dark backgrounds.

Note: Logos must also be recognizable on black or dark backgrounds

Another important tip: If the logo is printed on a black background, e.g. in a newspaper, it is important that the characters and lines of the logo are not too thin. The ink runs on the paper as a result of the ink application. Very thin lines or letters disappear or look washed out.

7. Lack of separation from other elements

Why is this important? Important graphic elements come into their own best when they are clearly separated from other objects. In a crowded layout, it can quickly happen that a logo loses its importance and thus its communication power due to small distances.

How can this mistake be avoided? On websites, in flyers or posters, there must be sufficient space around the logo until the next graphic element. As a rule of thumb, this should be at least 10% of the width/length of the logo.

Note: A logo needs space all around to be effective

8. Framed logo

Why is this important? A frame is a common means in layout to separate content from one another or to emphasize content. However, with a logo, there is a risk that the viewer will perceive the frame as part of the logo. This creates an inconsistent perception of the logo.

How you can avoid this? Even if the space in the layout of a flyer or poster is small, the logo should be separated from other elements with sufficient white space instead of using a tightly set frame. 

Note: A logo should never be surrounded by too tight a frame

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